Saturday, February 28, 2015

TCK: Snippets Part 3

Here is my third round of snippets from The Caver's Kiss.  Enjoy!

     Predictions were worthless...


     Hilma squeezed Ally’s hands sadly.  “My little Alumina…light of my world…my second chance…what has come over you?” 


       “Are you insane?” I whispered fiercely.  Kana’s nimble form was far ahead of me, clambering over rocks.  “Aren’t you forbidden from this part of the caves?  Don’t the Dragos live here?”
      “Yes, but if we see one you can kill it,” she said.
      Amos, the mighty Drago-slayer.  Somehow, in the retelling of the story, they forgot that the Drago impaled himself through no skill of mine.


     “So, do you think I am the son of prophecy?” I said, too weary to even grin at her.  My sense of humor seemed to have stormed out of the village with Ally and left me.
     “I don’t know anything about a son of property,” she said, weighing her words with all the gravity of an 8-year-old.


     I didn’t sleep well that night.  My success with wrenching the backstory out of Hilma was outstanding.  Perhaps, I could add legend-cracking to my future career as a caver.  But I was still missing the end of the story.  And, in some odd way, I felt like the final chapter of the legend involved me.  
     Which was ridiculous.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Introducing the Drago

     Hi, there!  I am back, talking about The Caver's Kiss again.  Today, I thought I would introduce you to the creatures who play a great role in my story: Dragos.  In fact, without the Drago, a certain event that was the catalyst for my tale would never have happened.

     Dragos are quite large, ranging from 20 to 30 feet in length.  They live in caves and hunt in low light or dark conditions.  Dragos are fierce, deadly creatures that will hunt anything that moves, although they especially love the taste of the carbat (a small flying mammal that glows via bioluminescence).  They are quick of temper, easily irritated, and they hold grudges.
     While Dragos are fictional creatures, they are based on a real life creature: the frilled lizard...only much, much bigger and meaner.
     Below are several photos of the frilled lizard.  Imagine them in a cave setting, and imagine them to be about as long as your house is wide.  That should give you a pretty good idea of the Dragos of Wheston caves.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Whatever Your Hand Finds To Do

"Whatsoever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might." (Eccl. 9:10)

     Hi, I'm just popping in to encourage you to have your protagonist pursue his goals wholeheartedly. 

Does he want to be the hero? Let him fight for that right with all of his might. Let him attack his enemies head-on.

Does he want to avoid being the hero? Let him put everything he has toward getting away from that position. Let him run from it with determination.

      While it is possible to have your main character drift through life with no clear goals and caring about nothing, it is hard to have a dynamic book with such a character.  It is much easier if, regardless of personality or goals, your character pursues his goals as strongly as he can.



     I had completely forgotten about Rachel Heffington's "wordplaywednesday" events until I saw Emily Putzke's post on her facebook page.
     Thanks, Emily!
     Her quote was awesome, by the way. 
    Anyway, because most of my writing has been edits this week, I didn't have a lot of new material to choose from.  But I picked this one:

"You will not harm him," Grayun warned, raising a hand as if to stop this spit-cat of an old woman.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

The Cavers Kiss: Snippets Part 2

Here are some more snippets from The Caver's Kiss.  Enjoy!

     Hilma clinched her ancient fist.  “You may make him welcome, but I will make him fly like a frightened bat.  Then we will have both fulfilled our promises.”


     Instinctively, my eyes wandered from Kana as she sang and into the shadows at the outskirts of our light.  Ally sat there, curled up with her heila.  And, as I watched her, she looked up and her eyes met mine.

     Whether I believed the Wheston legend or not, there was something peculiar about our circumstance.


     His words smacked against Ally like a slap, and she wished she could slap him back.  


     “You LIVE here,” Amos said in a fierce whisper.  “I’ve never seen a cave to match the beauty of this one, and you get to see it every day.”

     “I’m sorry, but that is the best one yet,” Amos laughed.  “It’s right up there with the tribe that required young men to kill a wild boar and eat its heart.  Or the one that required a young man to dance the kirawimba for 24 hours straight.”

      “Mm-hmm,” she said, around a mouthful.  Then she poked at my stew with her carved spoon – more specifically, she pointed at an unidentifiable slimy green lump in my stew.  “Make sure you eat your iaki,” she said.  “It will make you live long like grandfather Grayun.”
      It was a rather disgusting-looking lump.  “Is it worth it?” I asked Kana.  “Just how old is Grayun exactly?”


     But the relationship seemed a little rocky, no pun intended. 

      I raised my eyebrows.  “And they lived happily ever after.  The end.”  Maybe I had been mistaken in thinking I was living in a legend.
     “No,” Ally said, her voice so serious that I flinched.  “Because then I was born.”

Friday, February 20, 2015

Until something more fun comes along...

For the Chatterbox event, I am posting a what-if scene (what if Amos and Ally went to a little cafe).

Detroit: Astro Coffee - Kinfolk Love the case lamps and wall style
A cafe
via Pinterest

“What does one do in a place like this?” Ally ran her hands over the smooth wooden chairs and flicked her eyes over a chalkboard sign that advertised the price of coffee and bagels.

Amos pulled out a chair and sat down at a booth.  “Pass the time,” he said, leaning back and resting his arm over the back of the neighboring seat.

“Pass the time?  That sounds impossible.  To whence are you passing it?” Ally sat down across from Amos, trying to copy his manner as best she could.

Amos chuckled, his eyes crinkled up in amusement.  He was laughing at her.  “Beg your pardon,” he said, although he did not look the least bit sorry.  “It’s a figure of speech.  It simply means that we sit here for a while doing nothing until something more fun comes along.”

A man in a crisp white shirt interrupted them, setting two glasses of water on their table.  “Would you like to order?”

“I’ll have coffee – half-café with cream and no sugar – and a blueberry bagel with cream cheese,” Amos said abruptly.  He paused, looking at Ally.  “Would you like to order?”

“Order who?” Ally was confused.

Amos chuckled again.  “Never mind.”  He nodded to the white-shirted man.  “She’ll have the same.”

“Very good, sir,” the man said, nodding abruptly and hurrying away with short, quick steps.

Amos lifted a glass of water to his lips, looking out the window at the flow of people passing by.  But Ally watched the white-shirted man disappear through a swinging door at the back of the café.  “Is he a friend of yours?” she asked.

Amos snorted, spitting water across the table.  “Oh, Ally,” he exclaimed, setting his glass down and leaning back in his chair. Then he tilted his head back and laughed outright. 

Ally folded her arms.  “It’s awkward enough to be in a strange place where I don’t know the customs,” she said.  “It doesn’t help to have you collapsing in merriment over my every blunder.”

“I’m sorry, Ally,” he said, his lips still quivering upward at the corners.  “But you are so green, I can’t help it.  I love seeing my world through your eyes.”

Ally flushed, but kept her arms crossed.  “Well, I’d like to see it through yours so you’d better start explaining.”

“The man is a waiter – I pay the people here so that he can bring me food.”  Amos spoke slowly and simply, as though explaining things to a very small child.  “You and I will sit here and eat and talk about pleasant things until 4pm, at which time I am taking you to see a movie.  Never mind what a movie is – you will see when you get there.”  He shook his head.  “Don’t take everything so seriously, Ally.  It’s okay to make a blunder or two.”

The white-shirted waiter returned then, bringing two cups of steaming brown liquid and two round breads piled high with a white substance.

“It smells amazing,” Ally said, inhaling the rich aroma.  This, perhaps, was a custom she could get used to.  “But wasteful.  Why pay a man when you could walk back there and get it yourself?”

Amos’ eyes twinkled, but he didn’t laugh this time.  Instead, he lifted a bagel, smothered in cream cheese, and took a bite.  “Because, Ally,” he said.  “This is how we ‘pass the time’.”

TCK: Edits Begin

via Pinterest

     Technically, edits should begin with a rest period -- usually about 6 weeks of not-looking-at-your-manuscript.  This break is vital as it helps you to view your work with fresh eyes.
     However, for me, this break needs to come least for short stories.  So here is how I like to do things:
     1. Read through as soon as I can after I finish the first draft.  For me, there are things that I knew were wrong when I wrote them.  Ehk, that felt awkward.  Mmm, that will need to be explained better.  Ooops, that character needs to be introduced sooner.  Yikes, that sentence sounds so boring.  And so on.  These things are best addressed ASAP when I start editing, otherwise they weigh on my mind.  I like to print out a copy of my draft (in tiny print but with big margins), read through, and scribble notes in the margins.
     2. After scribbling notes in the margins, I feel like a weight is off my chest and I tuck my story away for a day or two.  I let my "to fix" list brew in my mind for a little while.
     3. Sometimes, I read an article on editing.  Go Teen Writers is usually helpful for me.  If you imagine my edits brewing in my mind like a tea, then casually reading through editing tips is like adding some fancy leaves to steep in my cup.
     4. Work through my margin notes.  This is where I am in the process right now.  I just finished Chapter Two last night. 
     When I finish fixing my margin notes, I might take another short break.  Then I will pull out some editing tips in earnest.  Instead of casually reading them, I will take each step and apply it to my story.  I'll look for unnecessary words, character breaches, dull scenes, etc.  When I get it as far as I can, I will then turn to my critiquing friends.  They will catch all of the things that I could not see. 
      Somewhere in here will be a 6 week break...maybe longer.  And then I will come back to the story and see how far I can get with fresh eyes.
      But all of this is far ahead of me.  For now, my goal is to fix Chapter Three by its margin notes before the weekend.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015



     Rachel Heffington, at, has started something new.  It's called wordplaywednesday.  Here is the summary, from Rachel's blog:
"The idea of this project is that every Wednesday, you people and I will share one favorite/important/beautiful/profound quote from our last week's work."
     You can head over to her blog to check out the rules for participation.  In the meantime, here is the piece I contributed (from The Caver's Kiss).

Twelve Days

     Woohoo!  I am so excited!  Yesterday I finished my first draft of TCK!  I think this breaks a record for me for speed.
     This story is just under 12k words -- definitely falling in the short story category.  And I will have room to add or delete as needed during the editing phase.
     Speaking of editing, that is next!  I am going to run through a couple rounds of edits on my own and then find some readers who will give me feedback.  The story needs a little bit of work...
     ...but it is starting out better than my last short story.  It makes me happy to think that I improve on each story I write.
     Squeal!  Still excited!

P.S. Let me know if you are interested in reading this story and giving me feedback.  Thanks.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Why I Like Posting Snippets

Posting snippets of your story is a fun exercise.  Here is why:


#1.  It is sort of a reward for the work you put in.  After all, if you didn't write anything, you wouldn't have any snippets to post.

#2.  It's fun to see what gems you have created. 
     Some writing is ho-hum.  I look over my own work and see boring sentences such as "She walked outside."  Sometimes a boring sentence is necessary and fits very nicely into your paragraph, but it doesn't sound impressive in a snippets collection.
     However, as you read through your story, you find some unique sentences that can stand alone.  Then you put them in a snippets post and feel very proud of them.  For me, sometimes it's a confidence booster.  Hey, look, I do have some good pieces in here!

#3.  They are a way to share what you are writing without spoiling the story.
     Seriously, if you can guess my plot from the 6 snippets I posted last Friday, you are either a genius or you are cheating. 
    Sometimes, I pass up posting a gem-of-a-sentence because it IS a spoiler.
    But, more often, I just have fun picking out sentences that make you wonder what is happening in that scene and, hopefully, make you want to read more.

How about you?  Do you post snippets from your writing?  Why or why not?

Friday, February 13, 2015

Snippets from The Caver's Kiss

Greetings, all!  I thought I would share some snippets from The Caver's Kiss.  I hope you enjoy them!

     The opening was small and I shimmied through it, knowing that I faced a 40-foot drop once I was through.  "No worries," I said.  "If I am not back in town this evening, you can assume I was eaten by a fire-breathing dragon."


     Rivers was his name...Ed Rivers.  He said, if I liked caving, I might want to try out a little-known cave near Wheston.


     I couldn't help but pity the people who walked overhead every day with no idea of the stunning beauty beneath their feet.


     "Hang on!" I shouted, hoping whoever it was wouldn't panic or do anything stupid until I got there.


     In the distance, I heard several voices.  "Kana!" they seemed to be shouting.
     "Uh-oh."  The little girl hunched her shoulders.  "I'm in trouble."


     The man smirked, unalarmed by Ally's terror.  "And here I almost thought you were Sleeping Beauty," he said.

(From The Caver's Kiss)

Wednesday, February 11, 2015


I'm rushing off to write some more in Caver's Kiss, but I wanted to pop in and make a brief observation about


 As writers, sometimes we find ourselves full to overflowing.  Ideas are coming thick and fast.  We are working hard at our craft.  Stories are shaping under our hands.  We are pleased with the work we are doing.
In times like these, it is easy to write blog posts.  There is always something you are eager to share -- something you've learned, some weakness you have conquered, a unique phrase that you just penned, a plot turn that has you breathless.  It is like your cup is so full that it flows down over the sides to share with others.

Such a state is vastly different from the occasional


 Emptiness is when you haven't had time to write and you know you should have.  When all your stories are floundering.  When you have gone back to the drawing board, wondering if you are any good at writing, while deep under the surface your story is simmering.  In times like these, it is hard to make blog posts.  What are you going to say?  Hi, I haven't written all week?  Or here is a valuable writing trick that is not even working for me right now?  Or let me give you advice when I really don't have any?

Those periods of emptiness happen for many, if not all, of us.  The good news is that, even though you can't see it, your inner writer is revamping and gathering the fuel it needs to go on.  And, before long, everything will click into place and you'll be off and running again.  And once more, you will be showering the rest of us with fascinating snippets and priceless writing advice.

Welcome back.  ;)

Monday, February 9, 2015

Introducing The Caver's Kiss

So, last week, I was suddenly inspired with a new story. I was so excited about it that I used it in Sky and Cait's Beautiful People link-up. And, to my surprise, you guys spoke up and demanded to know more about it. Hurrah! I thought you'd never ask!

I'm not terribly good at the short version of here's the long version.

Rooglewood Press has been hosting annual fairy tale retellings and will do so for 3 more years. They won't give hints about which 3 fairy tales are left; so I was trying to guess the possibilities and then set my mind to whichever seemed the hardest.
And the hardest, for me (especially since my rewrites contain no magic), was Sleeping Beauty.
I'm sorry, but a girl who sleeps for an extended period of time (how does she eat? Have her muscles atrophied? Does she know how to read or speak?) and then gets kissed by a perfect stranger sounds terribly confusing to me.  
I was almost to the point of deciding that, if Rooglewood ever picked Sleeping Beauty, I would have to skip entering that year...when THIS story popped in my head.
And I loved it.
I don't even care if it is too different to count as a proper Sleeping Beauty story. I like it.

My story is set in modern times. Amos Prince is a cave explorer - a "caver" as he calls himself. He doesn't tour your highly popular cave destinations - he prefers to go where no man has gone before. So when he hears of a secluded cave near Wheston, he packs his bags for the trip.
Caves have always held a huge attraction for Amos. The unearthly colors and deep earth sounds, the unusual rock formations and the unique creatures... It's like stepping into another world. And to think that people walk over ground every day with no idea of the beauty beneath them!
This cave, however, is wrapped in a secret local legend. The townspeople won't venture a foot into its depths for fear of fire-breathing dragons, and some believe that Sleeping Beauty herself is trapped inside.
Not that this deters Amos. Oh, no. He just grins and mentally adds it to the list of stories he'll have to tell someday about all the crazy legends he's encountered while caving.

The funny thing about legends, though, is that some of them have some small element of truth...

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Beautiful People: The Caver's Kiss

Hello, all!  I am linking up with Sky's Beautiful People this month, and I am sharing from a story that I first thought this afternoon.  Here is goes:

How long have they been a couple?
A very short time

How did they first meet?
Her village owed him a debt of gratitude and invited him to stay overnight.

What were their first thoughts of each other? (Love at first sight or “you’re freakishly annoying”?)
Honestly, it was love at first sight for both of them, though neither one admitted it.  He thought she was beautiful but rather scoffed at the legend surrounding her.  She was impressed with his confidence (and size...hehe) but was rather put off by his mockery.

What do they do that most annoys each other?
She dislikes the way he views her village's traditions with a mixture of curiosity and amusement.
He dislikes the way she clings to her cloistered life.

Are their personalities opposite or similar?
Different in many ways

How would their lives be different without each other?

Are they ever embarrassed of each other?
I don't know.  I haven't seen that yet.  But I could imagine her being embarrassed sometimes.

Does anyone disapprove of their relationship?
Her godmother

Do they see their relationship as long-term/leading to marriage?

If they could plan the “perfect outing” together, where would they go?

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Robots Don't Have Heart

Reading your words, what you wrote, how you were lonely sometimes and afraid, but always brave; the way you saw the world, its colors and textures and sounds, I felt--I felt the way you thought, hoped, felt, dreamt. I felt I was dreaming and thinking and feeling with you. I dreamed what you dreamed, wanted what you wanted--and then I realized that truly I just wanted you.”  ― Cassandra Clare
     I have a strange achy feeling that makes me want to write.  I want to curl up in obscurity and type away on my keyboard, letting story after story roll forth.
     Writing is a strange mix of "working" at something without "forcing" it.  The ideal of sitting down and reaming off perfect stories without pause...well, it hasn't happened in my world.  It's something I have to study, to work at, to rewrite, to scrap and start over, to try new techniques, and so on.  There is work involved in making a good story.
     But, at the same time, you can't force a good story.  There has to be an element of relaxing and just letting it pour from your heart.  After all, it is "heart" that really grabs a reader.  I don't mean mushy inspirationals; I mean the passion that is in you speaking to the passion that is in them.
     This is why robots don't write stories.  Why couldn't we just enter the formula for a good story into a computer program and have it type out all the next best sellers?  Because robots don't have heart.  They don't have passion.
     And this is why you should not "work" so hard at a story that you start "forcing" it.  Because writing is art, and art reveals the thoughts of the artist.  If you are frustrated, trying to force a story, then your work will sound frustrated and forced.
     So it's a balance.

1. Pour all the preparation, practice, study, and determination into making your story the best it can be.

2. But, when you write, relax into the network of preparation that you have made for yourself, and write with a passion.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Frozen Allegory: Authority

Elsa from the Disney movie FROZEN
Here is an allegory that we "discovered" (or invented?) around our kitchen table at lunch yesterday.  It is based on the new Disney movie, Frozen.  I am assuming that you have seen the movie.  (If you haven't, then prepare yourself for some very nebulous spoilers.)

What if the ice and wintry powers represented authority?

Authority can be used for good or for evil.  It can be dangerous or beneficial.

Elsa, as the heir to the throne, had this power.  Authority was to be hers.
She played with this when she was little.
But then she realized how dangerous her power could be.  She could even hurt people close to her with her authority, if she didn't know how to use it wisely.
So then, Elsa was afraid of her authority.  She tried to hide it.  She tried to run from it...from letting her authority come in contact with people.
But then she became queen.
There was no escaping from it anymore.  She couldn't suppress it or hide it.
So she "let it go."  She released herself to explore her power, her authority.
But, while authority can accomplish amazing things...even evil authority can boast of great accomplishments...her free use of it put her people in danger.
In the end, she learned that if she uses her authority in love, she can accomplish great things without causing the destruction her power would otherwise create.

And that is the story, turned into an allegory.  What do you think?

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Rooglewood contest winners!

     Hello, everyone!  The Rooglewood contest winners have been announced.  You can see the stories and authors at Rooglewood Press Fairy Collections.  I was not on the winning list, as you can see, and I didn't recognize any close friends.  However, one of the stories I recognized from a comment a girl left on a that kind of counts as a story/author that I knew about ahead of time.
     I very much enjoyed entering this contest.  I feel like my writing skills grew tremendously, and I feel like I could do better next time, based on what I learned this time.  And those are the main reasons I enter a contest anyway.
      So congratulations to the winners...and maybe you'll be seeing my name in the winners' list next year!